By: Ashley Eisenbeiser, Senior Director, Food and Product Safety Programs, FMI  

mg-caption: Gerald Wojtala, executive director of IFPTI presented the award to Joel Kuplack, senior vice president of HR, who accepted the award on behalf of Skogen’s Festival Foods at the Food Safety Committee Meeting in Phoenix. FMI, in conjunction with International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI), created the FMI Food Safety Innovation Award to recognize companies that have made an innovative contribution or commitment to food safety, and to encourage others in the industry, government and academia to search for creative solutions and implement new practices in continuing to keep our food the safest it can be. 

At our 2020 Midwinter Executive Conference, we honored Skogen’s Festival Foods with the FMI Food Safety Innovation Award. Festival Foods has demonstrated a responsibility to strengthening its food safety culture using a multi-pronged approach. It understands food safety is critical to its business operations and has worked to integrate food safety practices within its overall business strategy. Festival Foods sees the value in technologies, programs, education and initiatives that help move the food safety and regulatory needle forward.

A Multi-Prong Food Safety Program

“With the multi-pronged approach, we focus on technology and data collection, internal food safety culture, education, and continued collaboration and partnership with our state and local regulators,” said Festival Foods’ Stephanie Teclaw, quality assurance & regulatory affairs manager. “By focusing our efforts in these areas, we are better aligned to be able to detect and prevent issues in our operations, develop and foster a strong food safety culture that begins at the top, and build partnerships with our regulators that allow for progressive change forward.” 

Building A Food Safety Culture

Teclaw explained, “We know that promoting a food-safe culture requires all hands-on deck, from our frontline associates to our senior leaders. We also know that it requires steady, consistent and strategic transformation; along the way, we have continually adapted our strategy to fulfill our goal. We continue to look for ways to improve our programs.”   

“We strive to make food safety personal to our associates and we use that as a means of engagement. We know that the ownership of food safety must expand to every department — educating all associates is key. Further, we need to educate associates not only on the protection of food, but also its implications. Our associates can’t take ownership if they don’t know what they are protecting,” Teclaw said.   

Food Safety Technology Investments 

Festival Foods has invested in different pieces of technology that aid in improving food safety, food quality and regulatory compliance along with increasing employee efficiency and reducing inventory loss.  

Festival Foods puts food safety on par with every other key performance indicator the company uses to measure success. With the future of food safety being an ever-changing, exciting landscape, it requires awareness to be at an all-time high. 

Teclaw shared, “Staying ahead of the curve will be imperative to our operations — especially as we anticipate a more digital and transparent food system in the future. We anticipate predictive analytics taking a stronghold in the industry. We believe if we are better able to determine trends, we can better focus our efforts in the right areas.  Increasingly, partnership with policy makers will become even more significant in helping form the regulatory landscape around progressive food safety policy.”

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